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Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Keen to access free tertiary education? With four different Government-funded options now up for grabs, we have dedicated advisors who’ll help you navigate through all the different criteria to make sure you get the best deal. 

At the top of the list is Youth Guarantee and Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT). Both offer more than just free courses, they also provide additional mentoring to support student success. Limited places on selected courses are available. Youth Guarantee places are open to 16 to 19-year-olds, with priority given to those who haven’t yet achieved NCEA Level 1 or 2. MPTT scholarships, administered locally by Te Ara Poutama, are available to Māori and Pacific Islanders aged 16 to 40 who wish to enrol in a trades course. 

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Data Centre Team Leader Katherine Hooper says every enrolment that falls into one of these two categories is individually assessed by the Toi Ohomai Youth and Community Engagement team to check the applicant’s eligibility and the course places available. 

Recent legislative changes, which came into effect on 1 July 2020, mean students who use Youth Guarantee or MPTT funding will also retain the right to access further free courses in the future, if they’re eligible. 

The next option on the free education funding tier, and the most recently introduced, is the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF). This fund is open to anyone, regardless of age or previous qualifications, who intends to study a  targeted course or apprenticeship between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2022. It’s designed to increase the number of skilled workers in sectors that are expected to grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This means the Government will cover the fees for anyone undertaking an apprenticeship, selected level 3 to 7 sub-degree course, or industry training in targeted areas. TTAF courses are available across the primary sector (e.g. in agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, and forestry) and also in the conservation, construction, health and community support, education, manufacturing, electrical engineering, information technology, and road transport sectors.  

TTAF students have the choice of full-time or part-time study or training and will also be able to access Fees Free courses in the future, if they’re eligible. 

The “last stop” in free tertiary funding, Katherine says, is the Fees Free option, which the Government introduced at the start of 2018. This support targets first-time adult learners and covers the first year of a course or the first two years of industry training at Level 3 or above, or the equivalent value if the funding is used part-time or over multiple years.  

Fees Free is available to school leavers and anyone else who has completed less than six months of tertiary study or training at Level 3 or above. Anyone studying Fees Free will also be able to access TTAF courses and training later on, depending on the TTAF criteria outlined above. 

Katherine says every enrolment application Toi Ohomai receives is carefully assessed to check if it meets the criteria for any of the four funding options available.      

“For the lucky students who started an apprenticeship in the middle of last year or the start of this year, they’ll get two years of TTAF and then [potentially] one year of Fees Free, so they’ll only have to do one year [of paying their own course fees] if they’re doing a four-year apprenticeship,” Katherine says.

“We’re seeing an uptake across all of the TTAF programmes, which is good. For example, both the architecture and electrical engineering level 3 courses are now full.” 

Katherine says there can be a lag between when a course starts and when the Tertiary Education Commission approves individual TTAF or Fees Free funding, especially when a student is carrying their funding over into a new calendar year. In this situation, students have to pay upfront or obtain a student loan, via StudyLink, to start the first semester, and that money is automatically repaid once the TTAF or Fees Free funding has been approved. 

Anyone who is not eligible for any of the above funding options can also consider the annual scholarships that are available to Toi Ohomai students. 

These funding options are only available to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents (i.e. domestic students). Anyone who is legally entitled to work in NZ may also be able to access TTAF for industry training at their workplace. 

In addition to these options, most of our Level 1 and 2 courses are fees free for all domestic students.